Link building is not that hard as it is made out to be. You just need some empathy for the recipient and some copywriting skills to write a great outreach email.

Below I will share with you 4 mistakes I have seen people making in their link building emails and how to avoid those.

Let's get started!

Mistake 1: Not following Cialdini’s Principles

Who is Cialdini and why should you listen to him?

Well, Robert Cialdini is the seminal expert in Persuasion and Influence and the author of Influence, a book about persuasion that Sales and Marketing professionals swear by.

His advice does not work as great as hypnosis or black magic at getting others to do what you want, but you can’t hypnotize or do black magic via email anyway so Cialdini’s advice is what we gotta use.

In his book, Cialdini outlined 6 persuasion principles of persuasion:

  • Reciprocity
  • Commitment and consistency
  • Social proof
  • Authority
  • Scarcity
  • Liking

3 principles lend themselves very well to be used in your link building emails - Liking, Reciprocity and Social Proof.

Liking

Making someone like you increases the chances of him doing what you say. Think about it. Companies use celebrities in advertisements because consumers like celebrities.

How to Incorporate Liking

The simplest way to make people like you is using humor in your emails. Your email doesn’t need to be all formal and proper.

A simple joke formula I use in my signature is the rule of three. Here is how my signature looks like:

Shaurya Jain | Founder of Attention Always | Link Building Expert | Wannabe Rapper

The format is something sane, something sane and something insane.

You could use the same format to add humor to your signature. And if you want to take your humor game to the next level, I highly recommend watching this video of Jon Buchan, the funny email expert.

Reciprocity

Who are you more likely to help? Someone who has helped you before or someone who has not.

Someone who has, right?

So the next time you email someone for a link, ask yourself how you can help them. And this help does not need to be a big favor like introducing them to your celebrity friend or buying them a gift.

Daniel Ndukwu of Kyleads.com notes that as a society, there’s a deeply ingrained social drive to repay favors. In ancient societies, there were dire consequences for not repaying favors.

That’s why the followers of Hare Krishna were so successful after giving out flowers.

They didn’t ask for donations right away, they instead gave a flower and then asked for one. They took advantage of our built-in drive to return favors.

People were outraged because there was no real resistance after you collected the “gift.”

They were eventually banned from airports but before that, they became a multimillion dollar organization.

Think about the gifts you can give to people before you make an ask.

How to Incorporate Reciprocity

  • Point out a broken link on the site
  • Vote for them in a contest they are participating in & let them know
  • Share the solution to their problem they tweeted about

There are hundreds of such small ways you can help them.

Protip: Use P.S. to do this so that you don’t distract them from your link request.

Below is a good example of such a message, illustrating the principle ‘give more than you ask’. Stefan Debois from Survey Anyplace reported that conversion rates from email-to-link went 2.5x after adding this P.S. to the email.

Social Proof

I know many marketers who use fake testimonials and featured in logos on their sites.

Why do they do that?

Because it works.

People like to play safe and base their decisions on what others have experienced.

How to incorporate social proof?

  • Subtly mention in your email any big publication you have been featured in.
  • Get a lot of social shares for the piece you are trying to get links to & show it via the social sharing button. This signals to the potential linker that your piece is good and worthy of linking to.
  • If you have any noteworthy credentials in your field, flaunt them in your signature. People are more likely to link to an article about ‘How to improve your eyesight in 30 days’ written by an Optometrist than a random Health Blogger.

Mistake 2: Not Adding Value in follow-ups

If all your follow up emails for link building outreach are something along the lines of “Hey, Just wanted to follow up to see what do you think or I was wondering if you received my last email” then you are doing it wrong.

Your follow-up emails should add value to the recipient by providing more information about the piece you are pitching.

This saves the recipient from doing the research himself and persuades him further.

As you can see in the following image the, I am getting almost equal number of replies upon each follow-up where as replies to follow-up are drastically lower than the previous.

This is because of the fact that we try add value and new information in each followup email.

Suppose you have written a post listing the 100 most common Dog diseases and their symptoms, and want to pitch resource pages on dog blogs for a link. Here is what your emails should look like:

Email 1

Hi Andrew,

I have been following your blog A different Dog for quite some time now and really like all the updates about Tuffy and you.

I recently compiled the most exhaustive list of 100 Most Common Diseases among Dogs & their symptoms. It is 5000-word beast and has filters for symptoms, Dog breed, Dog’s age etc for easy navigation.

Do you think it is a good fit for your dog’s resources page’s health & Fitness section?

P.S - I can write a short paragraph about the article which you can put on your resource page if you are strapped for time.

Signature

As you can see this article is short and personalized and most importantly highlights the USP of the article - 5000-word article with various filters.

Email 2

Hi Andrew,

I hope you are doing fine!

Just wanted to add that the guide that I mentioned in the last email was created in collaboration with a local veterinary to make sure all the information is accurate.

I am sure your readers will appreciate an in-depth guide like it.

What do you think?

P.S - I can write a short paragraph about the article which you can put on your resource page if you are strapped for time.

Signature

Here we give Andrew another reason to link to our post - The post was created in collaboration with a veterinary which provides some social proof and authority ( two of Cialdini’s principles).

Email 3

Hi again Andrew,

I was wondering if you received my last 2 emails? If you did, please let me what do you think!

Signature

I recommend sending at most 3 emails for link building and your third email can be a standard followup email like the one above.

Mistake 3 - Not Using ‘You’ Focused Language

Sales reps and Copywriters are familiar with a persuasion tactic that most link builders are not.

It is using a ‘you’ focused language while writing.

But what the hell is ‘you’ focused language I hear you saying!

Well it’s writing a message keeping in mind the recipient’s wants, desires and situation as a blog owner (or whatever your target audience is).

If we continue with the previous example of a dog’s diseases article, we can try to guess what Andrew’s wants, desires and situation as a webmaster are and then write an appealing to those.

  • Wants - Happy and satisfied readers
  • Desires - More visitors to his website = More Money
  • Situation - Time-strapped as most bloggers do blogging part-time.

You can learn more about these three things by reading their bio and a couple of their blog posts!

Now if you look at the first two emails shown before, you can see that we appeal to his wants and situation with the following sentences.

Wants (Happy and satisfied readers) - I am sure your readers will appreciate an in-depth guide like it.

Situation (Time-strapped) - P.S - I can write a short paragraph about the article which you can put on your resource page if you are strapped for time.

It would have been great if I could have come up with something to appeal to his desires but I could not so I left it. But you should try to target all three.

Mistake 4 - Not Using Advanced Personalization

Many link builders are lazy and use just the basic personalization tags  - First Name and Website Name. They think that’s enough.

The sad thing is your competition is also using the same two tags. If you want to stand out in the inbox and differentiate yourself from the other people begging for links, you need to use more personalization in your emails.

As a rule of thumb, the more personalization tags you use, the more replies you get.

There are two types of personalization tactics you can use - Technology-aided and Manual.

Examples of former are using their website logo, recipient’s avatar, inserting recipient’s name dynamically in a meme etc. Basically, everything lemlist offers as a part of its personalization suite.

Technology-aided personalization takes no effort on your part and increases your reply rate considerably.

Don’t believe it?

Split test it yourself with lemlist!

Combining tech-aided personalization with manually sourced tags is where things start to get exciting though.

And you don’t even need to do this yourself. You can hire a VA to visit the sites and collect the information.

Continuing with our Dog blogs example, we could instruct the VA to find the following info for each site.

  • Site Owner
  • First Name
  • Website Name
  • Dog’s Name
  • Dog’s breed
  • Number of years they have been blogging
  • One of their recent guest Post on some blog
  • Their target audience

Jason Martinez of redefine marketing group finds adding a 1-2 sentence commentary on the blog post they wrote or talking about the trends you see influencing prospects industry helps personalize the emails too!

Using some of the tags above, we could write a super effective email like the following:

Hi Andrew (Site Owner First Name),

I have been following your blog A different Dog (Website’s Name) for quite some time now and really like all the updates about Tuffy (Dog’s Name) and you.

I recently compiled the most exhaustive list of 100 Most Common Diseases among Dogs & their symptoms. It is 5000-word beast and has filters for symptoms, Dog breed, Dog’s age etc for easy navigation.

Do you think it is a good fit for your dog’s resources page’s health & Fitness section? I am very sure that dog owners of differently abled dogs (audience specification) would find it very useful.

Name

P.S. - I can write a short paragraph about the article which you can put on your resource page if you are strapped for time.

P.P.S. - Really enjoyed your guest post on My Canine Friend.

As you can see, outsourcing personalization to a VA can help you massively scale your link building efforts.

People appreciate personalization. Let me show you an email exchange from one of our recent campaigns.

We sent the following email as a guest post pitch.

And here is the reply we got!

As you can people really appreciate you taking the time to know more about them.

This is one of the secrets of how my link building agency is able to help our clients earn tons of links month after month.


Bio - Shaurya Jain has a Organic SEO services Company which helps Clients Climb up in Ranking with White Hat Linkbuilding. He likes reading about Productivity and ancient cultures.